Undue Influence: New Zealand’s Tribal Corruption Charter

Corruption takes different forms in different nations. In New Zealand the Race Based Laws which grant legal privilege to Maori individuals and tribal entities have resulted in a form of corruption, the undue influence of Maori tribal entities upon New Zealand’s governance, economy and society.

Since 1975, this undue influence has resulted in an expanding cycle of “legalised” extortion, a "virtual Tribal Corruption Charter" through which wealthy, litigious tribal trusts can employ their special legal status as a mechanism to gain additional legal rights and powers, financial gain to individuals (mainly tribal trustees and employees) and tribal entities.

The ability of Maori individuals and groups to lodge claims with the Waitangi Tribunal that they have been prejudiced, in conjunction with an increasingly radicalised Maori electorate, also exerts undue influence on governments seeking policy reform, as governments quietly pay sweeteners to tribal groups to avoid protracted litigation and maintain internal support from Maori electorate MPs.

As many of the Race Based Laws are indirect in influence (eg the right to be consulted on an environmental application rather than the power to refuse consent), tribal entities often resort to implied threats of litigation and delay. As voiced by one tribal trust:

“It says the first rule on consent application is to “object”. The second rule on consent application is “object”. If in doubt go back to rule one (objection gives time, time is of no importance to us, only the application) it says. The first rule of objection is to claim lack of consultation, the document states. The second is the Treaty of Waitangi, the RMA is the third, and the fourth “anything anyone can think of”. Results would not be measured in dollars, “but the sum of the good that can be gained for the hapu”.(1)

The result of this undue influence of tribal entities is massive costs, both direct and indirect, imposed upon government ministries and agencies, local government, business and individuals. (2),(3)

Direct costs to business and individuals include costs for "soft" payments to tribal entities, unwanted and unnecessary cultural consultancy and advisory services, regulatory complexity, legal fees and delay. The wider economy must also be damaged as individuals and businesses simply walk away from both scientific endeavour and business opportunities.

Indirect costs for the operation of parallel institutions, separate Maori seats, Maori wards, the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Courts and co-governance etc flow to individuals and business through increased taxes, rates and charges. In some instances, undue influence fosters criminal corruption which may or may not be reported to authorities.

The following entries, which document instances of only a tiny fraction of the undue influence exerted by tribal entities over the last forty years, illustrate how tribal rights are damaging not only our economy but the nation's social fabric through the normalisation of New Zealand's peculiar form of constitutional corruption.

Please contact [email protected] if you have verifiable examples of undue influence that you would like to be included on this page.


Cultural reports for offenders cost $3.3 million in 2020

Taxpayers forked out $3.3 million for the cost of "cultural reports" for offenders in 2020. That's five times as much as the year prior.

These reports argue how each offender should receive a reduced sentence due to "personal, family, whānau, community and cultural background".

And it appears a cottage industry has emerged: anyone familiar with the courts system can charge up to $6,600 to write one, copy-pasting the standard lines they know will work to convince judges to cut sentences.


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Waikato Regional Council: Implementation of Treaty settlements estimated at over $13.18 million

The Waikato Regional Council's draft submission to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into Local Government Funding and Financing reveals that the implementation of Treaty of Waitangi settlements creates significant cost pressures for Council. The submission states that "the Council wishes to work with its iwi partners in partnership but notes that the costs to do so is significant to its ratepayers".

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$1.15 million (plus GST) to Kaitiaki Group as condition of consent to dredge harbour

Northland Regional Council has granted resource consent to New Zealand Refining Company Ltd to dredge the entrance to Whangarei Harbour. Dredging will allow larger crude cargoes of around 1 million barrels to be shipped to Marsden Point. Conditions of the resource consent include payments of $1.15 million (plus GST if any) to local tangata whenua to form a Kaitiaki Group.

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Koha paid for consent to drill water bores on private land

Ratepayers at a Bay of Plenty meeting with MP Todd Muller complained about their Councils playing 'fast and loose' with their rights - especially for the need to consult with local hapu/iwi when installing a water bore on their own property. "To get a bore you have to get iwi "consent", and they want a koha, which is not a gift, it's a bribe" one woman stated.
Another woman said that koha payments are not recorded by Councils, even though they can be compulsory under the Councils' terms of operation.

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Confidential agreement to pay $880,500 to Runanga to withdraw objection to wastewater scheme

Horowhenua Council’s Chief Executive confidentially agreed to provide nearly a million dollars to Te Runanga o Raukawa provided it did not object to a wastewater scheme. Chief executive David Clapperton made the confidential agreement to provide at least $880,500 to Te Runanga o Raukawa on the proviso the Runanga withdraw its objection to council’s resource consent application to make discharges from the Foxton Waste Water Treatment Plant to Matakarapa Island. “This is a huge sum of money distributed to a collective group for purposes which have not been disclosed to the public or debated by council for consideration,” said Councillor Ross Campbell.

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$1,000,000 payment by Carter Holt Harvey to Tainui on same day as environmental appeal withdrawn

“the third point I want to make is a broader question. It is in respect of the Resource Management Act. At the weekend we saw reported what I think is a very sad development for New Zealand. This country takes great pride in being a corruption-free country, a country where things are done upfront. We saw through the resource management process, a payment to Tainui of over $1 million. On exactly the same day the deal was drafted, an Environment Court Appeal was withdrawn. We are to believe that it is a co-incidence that the funding agreement just happens to expire on 1 January 2023, the day that the resource consent expires. This is a very sad reflection on Carter Holt Harvey. It is a sad reflection on Tainui. I believe that there are dozens of such cases. The only thing that is unique about this one is that it was reported because of the internal wrangles within Tainui”.

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Spiritual values and placating taniwha

In some situations, consenting authorities and courts are required to deliberate on the effects of a matter on tribal “spiritual values”. The courts have accepted that ancestral land is land that has been "owned" by ancestors (i.e. it need not have remained in Māori ownership). Generally, once a relationship with Maori is recognised, consultation is imperative. A Maori official “assisting” the Auckland Council preparing a billion dollar under-water rail tunnel told Council that the proposed route would trespass upon the territory of “horotiu” the taniwha (ancestral demon) The official noted to the Committee “there are always ways to placate taniwha”.

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Greenpeace: Oil company may be bribing iwi

“Greenpeace is concerned that an oil company with an exploration licence off Northland may be bribing iwi leaders to bolster support for their controversial drilling plans. Greenpeace has taken a picture of three executives from Norwegian oil giant Statoil meeting with an Iwi leader at a Wellington cafe. Campaigner Mike Smith said it goes against the Norwegian government's protocols specifying that consultation must be done through appropriate procedures and representative institutions. He said it's an effort to win over individual iwi leaders rather than engaging collectively. "They've got clear instructions from the Norwegian government that they should only deal with institutions and mandated representatives, that's our main concern."

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Iwi consultation - over a barrel

The Chair of the District Plan Review Committee …emphasised “over and over was that they were “over a barrel”, and that to refuse to adopt the recommendation that $20,000 be put aside for ‘consultation’ with the eight iwi members of the “collective”…. would surely trigger an appeal to the Environment/High Court on the grounds of inadequate consultation, which the iwi would undoubtedly win”… The Councillor’s final swipe “was to suggest that it was her view that there was no way that the iwi would be satisfied with $20,000, and that it would “grow in time”…. It took some pretty stern talking .. to bring them back to their senses, and go along with the “blackmail” (“Peanuts for Peace” was his terminology – not bad!).

Thames-Coromandel District Council 

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Open Letter to Denis O'Reilly, Ngati Paarau

One Pure, owned by Hong Kong based corporation Hon Lung International, with the capital and expertise to build a massive water bottling facility, felt the need to approach Hawke’s Bay tribal entity Ngati Paarau[i]  for “support and partnership [ii]” in their endeavour. Why?

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Waikato prison consultation costs $1.3 million

For over 2 years the Prime Minister, the Minister of Corrections, and local MP Nanaia Mahuta have known of the problems occurring in the Waikato and the concerns raised by local Māori as they spent $1.3 million. I want to illustrate how serious those concerns are by reading out a letter I received today: “Kia ora, My name is Irene Kereama-Royal and I currently reside in Hamilton. I am a qualified lawyer and was admitted to the High Court in Auckland as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1995.... 

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Genesis Energy - soft coercion

From one of a myriad of examples of soft coersion:

“The signing of a Relationship Agreement between Genesis Energy and six Huntly Marae and the Huntly based Waahi Whaanui Trust was the culmination of five years of engagement and dialogue. The agreement records the parties’ intention to establish an enduring, positive and beneficial relationship which directly addresses the effects of the Huntly Power Station on local Marae, while recognising the Huntly Power Station is a key strategic asset for Genesis Energy and New Zealand. Through regular engagement and funding provided by Genesis Energy, the parties seek to deliver the broad objectives of developing a long term relationship, assisting Marae development, fostering cultural understanding, supporting the kaitiaki role of the Marae and enhancing the environment and supporting education and training initiatives”.

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Holcim Land Held Sacred by Waitaha

Waitaha (te Runanga O Waitaha Me Mata Waka Inc) appeal against the granting of RMA consents by Waitaki District and Otago Regional Councils, claiming the Councils had failed in their resource consents process to apply the Treaty of Waitangi, Resource Management Act, New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Local Government Act. Waitaha representative Stephen Bray said it was "not his organisation's intention to apply undue pressure or to influence anyone, but to give clear understanding of its concerns and its perspectives of the appeal process it had been part of". "Waitaha values were not tradeable, nor could they be compromised by others. Only Waitaha after consultation could alter those values"

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Bob Jones on Auckland Council's cultural impact requirements

Sir Bob Jones writes: Recently, a shop tenancy changed in a modern 17-storey Auckland CBD office building owned by my company. The previous tenant had blocked off some of its window which we now intended putting back to the conventional shop front. At this stage, sit down with a stiff drink and accept my assurance I’m not making this up. For we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building’s appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window.

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Waitaha claim Councils failed to apply Treaty of Waitangi Act, RMA, NZ Bill of Rights Act and Local Government Act

Waitaha (te Runanga O Waitaha Me Mata Waka Inc) appeal against the granting of RMA consents by Waitaki District and Otago Regional Councils, claiming the Councils had failed in their resource consents process to apply the Treaty of Waitangi, Resource Management Act, New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Local Government Act. Waitaha representative Stephen Bray said it was "not his organisation's intention to apply undue pressure or to influence anyone, but to give clear understanding of its concerns and its perspectives of the appeal process it had been part of". "Waitaha values were not tradeable, nor could they be compromised by others. Only Waitaha after consultation could alter those values"

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Dr Nick Smith - "this is an invitation for backhanders"

New Zealanders will pay more for their electricity and have less security of supply as a result of Maori spiritual arguments over the Resource Management Act, says National's Environment spokesman Nick Smith. He is commenting on yesterday's Environment Court decision that will allow power generator Genesis to use water from the Whanganui River for only a further 10 years. "It is political correctness gone mad when key decisions on infrastructure are made on the basis that diverting the Whanganui River for hydro development will adversely affect Maori spiritual beliefs and self-esteem," Dr Smith says.

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Ngati Kura wheel clamp extortion

Members of iwi Ngati Kura clamp four cars at Matauri Bay and clamp four cars belonging to students on the beach for a surfing lesson. The group, armed with a portable EFTPOS machine, demanded $800 from Kamo Intermediate principal John Smith and only unclamped the students’ cars after he had paid up.

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